Elon Musk: Discussion About Underpopulation

With the hot weather we are having this summer, why not grab a cold beverage, and join me to soak in what I think might be Elon Musk’s “first principles” approach to addressing today’s declining birthrate?

A Model S Family in S. Korea. Credit: Tesla

Historically, Being Wealthy Has Led to Having Fewer Kids

Elon Musk was asked about the declining birthrate on Johnna Crider’s podcast

Elon said,

“The declining birthrate is somewhat counterintuitive, but generally, the wealthier someone is, the fewer kids they have. 

I’m an exception, but it’s quite rare.  Basically, the higher the education level and the wealthier people are, the fewer kids they have. 

So it’s not a money thing.  In fact, it seems the opposite, like the more money that someone has, the fewer kids they have. 

Somebody who is living as the 2022 standard for the poverty level would be really, I mean they have access to things that the richest person didn’t have 100 years ago.”  

Population COLLAPSE is Coming. Credit: After Skool, see https://youtu.be/zC1khWr7wg8

Elon’s approach: Correcting the false perception that there are too many people

Johnna asked, “Do you have any other thoughts or ideas on how to reverse population decline?”

“The population decline problem, I think is possibly the biggest risk to civilization or its certainly one of the biggest risks. 

First of all, a lot of people think that there’s too many humans on the planet and the planet can’t sustain this number of humans.  This is absolutely not true. 

We could double the population without any meaningful damage to the environment. You can put all the humans on earth in the city of New York.  That’s the cross-sectional area of humans. They could literally fit in the city of New York on one floor, you don’t even need high-rises.  And if you’re on a plane flight and you look down and you say, “what percentage of the time, if I were to drop a ball, would that ball hit a person?”  Basically zero.

Even in a city like LA, where we think, “oh, that’s a crowded city,” looking at it from above, what’s the cross-sectional area of humans relative to the rest of the ground?”  It’s much less than 1%, even in LA. 

So if you’re in a big city environment and you see a lot of people you sort of extrapolate that to everywhere, but it’s actually very rare to see a concentration of humans. 

Earth is very sparsely populated with humans.  There’s not enough humans, far from being too many.  I think people are still sort of operating on the assumption that the population is growing like crazy when in fact the opposite is occurring.  These numbers are easy to look up, they’re just on the internet.  We had the lowest birthrate in recorded history last year.” – Elon Musk

“Far too many people are under the illusion that Earth is overpopulated, even though birth rate trends are so obviously headed to population collapse” – Elon Musk

False perceptions persist that fewer kids are better for the earth’s environment. Credit: Elon Musk on After Skool’s video “Population COLLAPSE is Coming.”

Supporting Families at Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Co.

In addition to being very vocal about underpopulation, Elon Musk is making sure families get needed financial support at all four of his companies. The Musk Foundation is also now tasked with donating directly to families.

“Kids are worth it if at all possible. I’m planning to increase childcare benefits at my companies significantly. Hopefully, other companies do same. Also, Musk Foundation plans to donate directly to families. Hopefully, details to be announced next month.” – Elon Musk

(article update, July 12) Elon Musk responded on Twitter to this article, saying “Children are essential to the future.” His comment led to over 2000 people giving their opinions on underpopulation.

Conclusion

Elon Musk carefully explains that wealthier people have fewer kids.  In a sense, even people living at the 2022 poverty level are better off than wealthier people in times past. 

Oddly, this counterintuitive situation has parallelled a lower overall birthrate.

There are still billions of people in the world who lack literacy and access to the internet, but for those who do have it, you can learn almost anything online.

When asked if he has any other thoughts or ideas on how to reverse population decline, Elon Musk uses the first-principles approach in correcting the false notion that there are too many humans on the planet for the earth to sustain, “I think people are still sort of operating on the assumption that the population is growing like crazy when in fact the opposite is occurring.”

Finally, Elon Musk has directed both the Musk Foundation and his companies to directly support families with children.

My thoughts

Most people are surprised to find out I have 5 kids. I do, and they are all amazing! After we had our 5th, my husband and I wanted more. My husband’s logic was that the USA is wealthier than most countries and he liked my parenting style. Kids really DO grow up fast, making parenting easier and less of a challenge than I once thought.

I think first-principle thinking can be applied to population collapse.  Here are a few of my observations:

  • Raise awareness that population decline is a real problem, in the process people, will stop thinking that there are too many people
    • After Skool created a great education video featuring Elon Musk, Chamath Palihapitiya, Dr. Shanna Swan, Jodan B. Peterson, Chris Williamson, and Dave Chappelle, you can view it on Youtube
  • Change the fact that wealthier people have less kids.  As world literacy and education and internet connectivity rise, this will become more important
  • The Tesla Optimus Bot can help relieve the difficulty we will face with too few young people to care for older people
  • Optimus can also perform tedious jobs that people find unattractive

Though it may be inevitable that we will experience population collapse, we as a society can still work towards lessening the severity of it.  We can work towards correcting misunderstandings about it. Companies can increase childcare benefits, encouraging and supporting their families.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree with Elon Musk?

Downtown Austin, Texas at night. Credit: David Gallentino on Unsplash

In addition to solving the problem of underpopulation, Elon Musk said, “I want to do everything we can to maximize the use of technology to help achieve a better future for humanity. To that end, any area that contributes to a sustainable future is worthy of our investment.” You can read more about this in my article, “Read Elon Musk’s essay on technology for a better future.

Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blog post was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. July 9, 2022

Header photo by Tyler Nicks on Unsplash

25 thoughts on “Elon Musk: Discussion About Underpopulation

  1. This is BS. There are almost 8 billion people on Earth. The UN says we are not projected to peak until we reach 10.4 billion in the 2080s. Estimates are that we already use 1.75 times more resources than can be regenerated. In other words, we can only sustain our current population because of fossil fuels! Places like the Amazon are already being cleared for agriculture, and we will need much more land to support a larger population, especially without synthetic fertilizers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, so imagine a world where almost all energy is generated by solar and wind? Also, take a look at the reality of how few people really inhabit our earth. There is physical space for many many more people.

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      • Thanks for replying. You still need to feed all those people. You need to mine the materials for all that infrastructure. Sure, there is physical space for more people, but what about the space required for everything needed to support them? What about all the other species and needs for land? We are continuing to deforest the planet, which is another cause of climate change. Plus, it is going to take much longer than you and I would hope to transition to mostly clean energy. It’s true that improvements in land use efficiency could help, but as people’s income increases, they tend to eat more meat, not less.

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  2. The issues that never seem to get addressed in this discussion are jobs and resources. What will all these people do as robots and AI continue to take jobs? And how will we produce energy for them? Can solar really handle it all eventually?

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    • You make a point. And Tesla Optimus humanoids are a way to address the fact there will NOT be enough people to do the menial and unpleasant jobs. Optimus will work in more extreme temps and will possibly take care of the elderly.

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  3. I find it amazing how deep the brainwashing runs that the world is overpopulating, and that any addition to humans on the planet is bad for mother earth. Several facts counter this thinking that I think we need to add to the conversation: 1) Humans are learning to live with much less impact on the environment through technology innovation, 2) Fertility is declining dramatically due to a number of unknown factors (largely chemicals around us in plastics, etc.) so that even parents who WANT children won’t be able to have them, and 3) The incorrect notion persists that it’s more expensive now to have children than it has been throughout history. The honest truth is that having children never has been nor ever will be “easy” or “easier” (Life101), and encouraging parents to have children is how we ensure humanity survives and thrives – and that to teach otherwise will eventually lead to a planet with no humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great points Mark! My hope is that articles like this and people like you, who are willing to talk about these facts will contribute to correcting all the false beliefs.

      Like

  4. We travel eight hours to visit our grandchildren in northern Wyoming. For hours at a time, there is nothing but plains, mountains, and a thin ribbon of road.

    Years ago, when we were taking that trip with our four children, our youngest son heaved a big sigh after hours and hours of no human trace at all, and said: “Mom, those Wall-E guys are idiots.”

    Have kids. Lots of ’em.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My wife and I had nine children. Intentionally, with full understanding of what we were doing. We were not rich, solidly middle-class but with support from our families. As it turned out, we were the only ones from our families (of three children each) who had kids. Our parents were grateful to have grandchildren, and our children share unique fraternal bonds that will sustain them throughout their lives. And now that our older children are having babies, let the crazy family reunions begin!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elon is wrong that wealthy people have fewer kids. It’s more like an inverted normal distribution. Middle-class people have the fewest kids while poor people and wealthy people have the most.

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  7. Gail I love most of your articles but can’t agree with this one. My wife and I decided to only have one kid not because it would cost more to have more kids, but because we are lovers of flora and fauna diversity. Simply stated, the more people, the less other species on the planet. We may be just decades away from the loss of the entire Amazon. Quality over quantity.

    Like

    • Sou. BRASILEIRO, para todos aqueles que ficam acreditando nas mentiras que são difundidas por órgãos de interesses finananceiros na amazonia, deveriam sair de seu conforto e vir conhecer e sobrevoar a amazonia, para percorrer e ter uma verdadeira noção do que é a amaonia em todo o seu territorio precisaria um sobrevoo de aproximadamente quinze dias.
      Portanto não serão alguns anos ou decadas que a a acabarão com a amazonia, ela e mais do que quslquer ser humano possa imaginar, ela tem vida própria, ela se auto reconstrói, seu bioma é único e quem tem mais interesses na amazonia são os mesmos paises que estirparam suas florestas e não cuidaram e não cuidam das matas ciliares que protegem os rios e vertentes, coisa que no Brasil e levada a serio, indo contra as narrativas internacionais e aos apoiadores politicos e ativistas mentirosos como algumas celebridades como Leonardo di Caprio, Macron e outros que falam mas nunca sequer pisaram na amazonia.

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